“Guardian Angels” of St. Proculus church
“Guardian Angels” of St. Proculus church
THIS PERHAPS BEST DESCRIBES THE 35-YEAR RELATIONSHIP MARIA AND HEINRICH KOCH HAVE HAD WITH THE CENTURIES-OLD CHURCH OF ST. PROCULUS. AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, IT WAS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC THAT EVENTUALLY CLOSED THIS LONG CHAPTER IN THEIR LIVES, DURING WHICH THEY LED VISITORS ON COUNTLESS TOURS. WE MET UP WITH THE COUPLE AGAIN AND SPOKE ABOUT THE FRESCOES IN THE CHURCH, WHICH REMAIN A SOURCE OF FASCINATION FOR THEM. WE WANTED TO FIND OUT WHAT MAKES ST. PROCULUS SO SPECIAL AND WHY SOME VISITORS ONCE CAME BEARING ARMS.

Your involvement with St. Proculus has lasted 35 years. What do you still find fascinating about it?
M: It’s how the church affects me. I’ve looked after it for 35 years, and when I conduct guided tours there I still find the frescoes as fascinating as I did on the very first day. It's amazing how much is concentrated in such a small space, with so much detail and hidden beauty.
H: What fascinates me is the realisation that, despite all the scientific knowledge that man has developed, we still know nothing. The Carolingian frescoes can be interpreted in so many ways, and the important questions of life are still open. Since so little is really known and we’re mostly left to speculate. Our explanations of various aspects of the church could only be based on the different theories that have been put forward. What these painters tried to pass on to us 1,300 years ago, we’ll never know – simply because we weren’t there. The frescoes depict subjects important to the Carolingians … things that had meaning for them. By contrast, frescoes by Gothic painters are more overtly dogmatic.

Is there a particular painting or fresco in the church that stands out for you?
M: The one depiction that still fascinates me to this day is image of the angels adoring the chancel arch with open hands. I especially like the gesture of the hands, as if to ward off evil. And if you look closer, they are the only figures in the church represented with ears! Perhaps it has to do with their proximity to the altar, so they can hear the Word of God.
H: That fact that there are certain depictions that are only found in St. Proculus is also exciting, such as the disproportionately large hands or the Gothic portrayal of the Magi. They were initially portrayed as children, then as adults and finally as old men. What does all this symbolise? Perhaps that Man is on a lifelong quest. What a unique depiction!

After more than 35 years working there, have you seen any change in the type of visitors who come to the church?
H: The type of people who come to visit St. Proculus Church have always been varied, and include regular tourists, school groups and academics. It's a bit of everything. The biggest change in recent years is that cultural tourism has increased a lot. Most of those who came to South Tyrol 35 years ago did so to go hiking and to enjoy the wine. That was about all. That’s changed a lot in recent years.

The frescoes in the St. Proculus Church are 1,300 years old.
What in your opinion is its main attraction, and what is it about this inconspicuous little church that makes it so interesting to visitors?
H: St. Proculus is more than a cultural attraction or just another church. It’s an energy spot! Such places have attracted visitors for centuries, and people always leave something of themselves behind. It’s also true that St. Proculus has been a source of fascination for esoteric visitors and energy diviners. Whichever way you look at it, we can all agree on the fact that St. Proculus Church makes people feel at ease. It’s a place where one can recharge one’s batteries. It isn’t unusual to find families with children in St. Proculus’s garden.

We live in turbulent times with various crises going on around the world. What would you say is the role cultural artefacts play in modern society? To provide social cohesion? Remember how the world looked on horrified when the Notre Dame caught fire, or when IS destroyed ancient monuments in Syria and Iraq?
H: Cultural monuments are rallying points for society; places of identification. These days, locals hardly notice them anymore as they are taken for granted. The fact that works of art in many historic buildings resonate with contemporary events somehow surprises people. In St. Proculus, there’s the fresco of Mary fending off the arrows of the Plague with her mantle, which seems so appropriate during the Covid-19 pandemic. I would say that people nowadays are turning back to culture and history. Obviously, I see this as a positive development.

So, these monuments aren’t just lifeless buildings?
M (laughing):
No, they aren’t lifeless. On the contrary, they are very much alive and if you pay attention, you’ll find they have the most fascinating tales to tell.
The church was like a second home for Maria and Heinrich.
The outwardly inconspicuous St. Proculus Church hides early Carolingian art treasures dating from about 1,300 years ago. Apart from their age, their artistic value is equally noteworthy. Frescoes include the renowned “Swinger”, Angels, ornamental Celtic bands, a herd of cattle and the onlookers. Next to these frescoes are gothic paintings.
For those interested in delving further into its history, there’s the Proculus Museum just opposite. Archaeological relics depict human activity in the area of Naturns/Naturno, from late Antiquity to the devastating Typhus Epidemic of the 17th Century.
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naturns_naturno 17 hours ago naturns_naturno

Soon the connecting trail between the Mausloch-Alm and the Ötzi Flow Trail will be completed! In Naturno bikers find numerous trails of all levels of difficulty 🚴🚴‍♀️
@mauslocholm
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#newtrail #bikelife #mtb #bike #mountainbiking #downhill #trails #mtblife #trails #uphills #freeride #bikestagram #downhillmtb #naturno #southtyrol #mountainlove #lifeinsouthtyrol #fahrrad #sport #biken #draußenzuhause #naturns #südtirol #inbici #ciclismo #ciclismomtb #altoadige #naturno #altoadigedascoprire

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naturns_naturno 3 days ago naturns_naturno

Did you know that the "Five-Fingers" shoes were invented in Naturno? Have you ever tried hiking with these shoes?
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#hiking #fivefingers #fivefingershoes #naturno #mountains #mountainlover #landscape #naturelover #theoutdoorpassion #southtyrol #wandern #barfußschuh #bergliebe #draussenzuhause #wanderlust #naturns #südtirol #südtirolerleben #montagnachepassione #altoadige #passionemontagna #altoadigedascoprire #natura #montagna #naturno

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naturns_naturno 5 days ago naturns_naturno

Which of you knows which beautiful valley this is? A little tip: one of our weekly shuttles will take you there!
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#hiking #mountains #mountainlover #landscape #naturelover #natureparc #alps #theoutdoorpassion #schnalstalvalley #southtyrol #wandern #herbst #bergliebe #draussenzuhause #indenbergenzuhause #wanderlust #pfossental #schnalstal #naturns #südtirol #südtirolerleben #montagnachepassione #altoadige #valdifosse #valsenales #passionemontagna #altoadigedascoprire #natura #montagna #naturno @schnalstal_visit_valsenales

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naturns_naturno 7 days ago naturns_naturno

An autumnal view of Hochnaturns Castle 🍏🤩
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#apple #agriculture #autumn #southtyrol #landscape #applepicking #outdoor #culture #naturno #landwirtschaft #apfel #wirliebenäpfel #ernte #südtirolerapfel #apfelweltsüdtirol #apfellandsüdtirol #herbst #hochnaturns #naturns #melealtoadige #coltivazione #mele #frutticoltore #autunno #agricoltura #altoadige

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naturns_naturno 12 days ago naturns_naturno

Soon the "Törggele"-season will begin and typical autumnal dishes will be enjoyed again! What do you like best about this time of year?
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#autumn #autumnvibes #chestnuts #newwine #tasteofsouthtyrol #eatlocal #winelover #tradition #southtyrol #besttime #lifeinsouthtyrol #foodlover #toerggelen #kastanien #krapfen #suser #herbstzeit #südtirolaufdemtisch #naturns #südtirol #autunno #autunnoinaltoadige #castagne #vino #altoadigeatavola #naturno #altoadige

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naturns_naturno 14 days ago naturns_naturno

In Naturno there are several trails that are dedicated to a specific theme! Do you already know our themed trails?
#mountainlover #gooutdoors #explore #naturelovers #hiking #nature #mountains #theoutdoorpassion #exploremore #landscape #southtyrol #lifeinsouthtyrol #venostavalley #wandern #themenweg #berge #wanderlust #landschaft #bergwelten #wanderung #bergliebe #naturns #vinschgau #südtirol #percorsitematici #famiglia #natura #valvenosta #altoadige #altoadigedascoprire

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